Days after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams disclosed that he had received more than $160,000 in gifts over the last five years, a spokesman confirmed for the first time that federal agents had interviewed members of the district attorney's staff - and one of Williams' gift-givers said she had also spoken to the FBI.
Williams' spokesman, Cameron Kline, said Thursday that he did not know how many staffers had spoken to FBI agents, or when, or what they were asked.
Williams came under public scrutiny this week after releasing a list of $160,050 in previously undisclosed gifts, including sideline passes to Eagles games, vacations at a pharmaceutical mogul's country estate, and $45,000 for a roof and other improvements to his home.
According to a lawyer for the pharmaceutical executive, Williams himself sought the vacations at the millionaire's luxurious 2,500-acre property.
"He asked to use the facility," said Dennis Gordon, lawyer for Raymond Mirra, owner of the Stone Ridge Estate in Appomattox, Va.
Williams first stayed at the estate as a guest of William R. Miller IV, a city political player and close friend of Mirra's who is now deceased, Gordon said.
But then Williams began to ask to use the estate for vacations with his family, the lawyer said.
Williams listed family vacations there worth $1,000 each for 2010, 2013, and 2014.
The estate, which is for sale and has been listed at $10 million, is advertised as being "set up more like a private resort in which to pamper oneself," with a full horse stable, riding trails, and "endless amenities," including six guest homes, a 6,000-bottle wine cellar, a massage area, a bowling alley, and indoor and outdoor pools.
Williams may have undervalued the vacations. The Dude Ranch Association, an organization of more than 100 accredited horse ranches across the country, said stays at similar high-end horse retreats can run well in excess of $1,000 for just one night.
Mustafa Rashed, Williams' campaign spokesman, said Williams' $1,000 estimate for each of his family's vacations at Stone Ridge was based on "fair market value."
Rashed said the free trips - to Key West, Fla., Turkey, and other locales - were all work-related or vacations provided by friends or family.
Another gift-giver, Sylvia Randolph, said Thursday that FBI agents had asked her about $10,000 she and her husband gave to Williams in 2013. Williams listed the money as going for his "mother's medical expenses and other personal expenses."
In addition to interviews with Williams' staffers, the FBI also has questioned Robert Herdelin, a real estate investor and Williams campaign contributor. Agents asked about a below-market rental for Williams' former wife, Sonita, Herdelin said this year.
That rental arrangement was not listed as a gift in Williams' amended financial-interest statements, made public this week.
At Williams' request, Herdelin said, he rented the district attorney's ex-wife a Drexel Hill house worth $2,500 per month for just $1,000.
Samuel C. Stretton, an attorney for Williams, said Williams compiled the list of gifts that was submitted.
"If that's not in there, it's because it wasn't considered a gift," Stretton said of the rental agreement.
The Inquirer first reported in August 2015 that the FBI and IRS, working with a federal grand jury, had subpoenaed records from the political action committee Williams has used to run his campaigns for district attorney.
Sources familiar with the probe said the investigation centered on whether Williams misspent funds from that committee on personal expenses.